Arts Orange County (ArtsOC), the county's officially-designated local arts agency, warns that the economic toll from job losses, canceled performances, and reduced philanthropic support is being felt across every supervisorial district in Orange County and threatens the future of the sector.
ArtsOC surveyed leaders from 42 OC arts organizations of all sizes and arts disciplines. The results show a staggering impact to the sector from the COVID-19 crisis:
Nearly 1 million admissions have been lost due to cancelled events.
62% of arts entities anticipate a severe financial impact from the crisis.
31% of arts organizations have been forced to lay-off or furlough staff.
43% have implemented salary reductions.
52% are depleting cash reserves to meet their obligations.
"Orange County's arts organizations enrich and educate our community, expressing our common humanity through art. Our first concern is for the people suffering from this illness and for the many who are undergoing financial hardship as a result of the crisis--including the many artists who live and work in our community," commented Richard Stein, President & CEO of ArtsOC. "Sadly, it is apparent from the survey that the arts organizations who serve our citizens and employ these artists are now themselves in serious jeopardy."
According to the annual Otis Report on the Creative Economy, Orange County's arts and creative sector, which includes more than 700 non-profit organizations, employs, directly and indirectly, over 90,000 people, accounts for more than 4 percent of Orange County's gross economic product and generates nearly $1 billion in state and local tax revenue.
"It's not just artists, dancers, and musicians," Stein added. "The arts community creates jobs and generates economic revenue for skilled trades and independent contractors, as well as small businesses-such as suppliers on whom they depend and restaurants frequented by their audiences."
Federal stimulus programs that were designed to include non-profit organizations, are failing to reach arts organizations in Orange County. Just 9 OC arts organizations surveyed have been approved for the Small Business Administration's Payroll Protection Program.
Despite the devastating financial toll on their organizations, arts groups are stepping up to provide valuable community support and contribute to the positive mental health of Orange County residents.
More than two-thirds of arts organizations reported that they are contributing to the community's COVID-19 mitigation efforts through informational messaging, volunteer service, and the donation of PPEs and other supplies.
To help raise community spirits and morale during the crisis, more than three-quarters of arts organizations are providing arts content digitally to the community. The nearly 100 online and virtual arts experiences they are offering are now prominently featured on SparkOC.com, ArtsOC's free events website.
"Our arts sector has joined with the rest of the community in focusing efforts and resources upon the health and well-being of our County's citizens," Stein said. "The arts have a critical role to play in, and must be included in, any plan for resilience in Orange County."